7 Reasons why South Africa is such a hot travel destination

by Jules on September 22, 2012

South Africa is a beautiful country full of diverse cultures, languages, hospitable people, amazing dining options, shopping and wild life. South Africa has some of the world’s most amazing wild life reserves and a coast line that is loved and frequented by tourists and locals. With over 9 provinces, South Africa is full of adventures and excitement. Here are the top 7 things to do in South Africa.

Giddy up Ostrich

While pretty much everyone can ride a horse, few people have the chance to ride an Ostrich. South Africa is popular for its Ostrich farms and Oudtshoorn is definitely the place to ride these amazingly strong and fast birds. Oudtshoorn is about two and a half hours from Buffalo Bay, so it is generally a good idea to book a bed and breakfast hotel or backpackers lodge near the Buffalo Bay so you can watch the spectacular sunrise the next morning, enjoy a refreshing swim and have an African Braai for breakfast by the waters.

From here you can head to Oudtshoorn where you can book to ride your Ostrich over the phone for about 80 African Rand. A jockey takes you to your Ostrich that stands in a wooden pen. There are steps that you use to climb on top of the bird and you must hold on to the Ostriches feathers at all times. The jockey then opens up the pen and the bird shots through, the ride is pretty rough and quite a daring task to take up but is definitely a must for all adventure seekers and is an experience of a lifetime! There are also restaurants and accommodation options in Oudtshoorn but none has as striking a view as those in Buffalo Bay.

One note of warning though; ostrich riding can be pretty dangerous so don’t scrimp on safety and choose a reputable operator. Also you’ll probably need to get clearance from your travel insurance company for the go ahead to participate.

Picnic on Table Mountain

One of the best spots for a picnic in the whole world is atop Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Use the cable car to head there from Platteklip Gorge or The National Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens. Alternately, you can also walk up there and enjoy the sun and the amazing view. Pick up a map at a local gas station and you should be fine hiking up and back. Other essentials include a great picnic lunch and comfortable walking shoes.

Knysna

With its amazing lagoon and surrounding forests, Knysna is a friendly and interesting town right in the heart of the fabled Garden Route. This place is a must see and is popular for the variety of water sports and delicious cuisines it has to offer. Visit the private nature reserve at Featherbed and take in the whole town or choose a cove to barbeque with your family. Fishing, swimming, bird watching, town tours, elephant rides and forest tours are just the tip of the ice berg!

Pack along an extra change of clothes and a light rain coat and walking boots along with a map. South Africa’s climate can turn rainy and back to sunny in seconds! Avoid Knysna during popular holidays since it tends to get too overcrowded and pocket picking becomes an issue.

Tree Top Stay

When in South Africa try a tree top stay at the Teniqua resorts. These environmentally friendly tree top resorts are located close to the stunning coast of Cape Town and provide a splendid panoramic view of the Garden Route. Enjoy this leafy accommodation and experience waking up to the sound of exotic birds. Ideally located within the Garden Route forests these tree top resorts actually have a kitchen, washroom and bedroom!

There are many activities that can be enjoyed in the area, from forest exploration to a swim in the Karatara River. Remember to pack along your walking boots, swim suit, insect bite creams and other necessities since the only shop in the area is pricey.

Try to pair your stay with a whale watching trip as well for the complete back to nature experience that South Africa seems to perfect at.

Kruger National Park

With mountain bike trails, hiking trails and sealed roads, this park has something for everyone. Home to the ‘big five’ animals (lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros) and thousands of other species of plants, smaller animals and insects this National Park is one of the biggest and most exciting reserves to explore on safari. With rivers and open savannahs, the park is home to elephants, lions, leopards, and buffaloes, rhinos along with other animals like cheetahs, giraffes, monkeys and hippos. Dress light the day can get pretty warm and head to the park early in the morning to avoid crowds. After all, you can’t possibly come to South Africa and not enjoy a safari!

Visit the Cango Caves

Klein Karoo or the Cango Caves must make their way onto your itinerary. Book a standard or adventure tour and take in the ancient stalactites and blue limestone ceilings. With several halls, rooms and chambers, the caves have a lot to offer and there is definitely a lot to enjoy. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in light layers.

Moyo

Also known as the African soulful experience, this 500 seater a la carte dining experience is incomparable to anything in the world. Spread out over 5 floors, this dining experience is connected by rustic, copper stair cases and passages that display African art and are always live with African music. There are also water displays in the nooks and corners and the lighting, crockery and authentic African cuisine are all an experience in their own right. Moyo features and appreciates the different African cultures and communities every week, so there is always a featured artist playing live while you indulge in dishes like the west coast smoked snoek pate house salad and the oxtail amos! Tap away to artists from all over the continent while enjoying the true taste of Africa. The best Moyo branch is definitely the one in Johannesburg on The High Street. Each floor is designed slightly different; definitely choose the lowest floor for its Moroccan style tents! Remember to reserve through their website since it is a pretty busy place. A hearty meal here costs about 125 African Rand, ZAR or about 15 USD.

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